In these uncertain times, the home can often feel like a cage, trapping you in with limited social interaction and connection to the outside. The affects of social isolation can harm not only your physical health but also your mental health. With so many people working and studying from home, there is no longer any distinction between work and life. This lack of barriers tears down many people's work-life balance. As people work from home more, they compensate by working later, longer, and harder.
Creating a mental safe space somewhere in your home can help alleviate the affects of mental exhaustion. For me it was my bedroom, a place in the house that is designated as mine alone, where boundaries are respected and people *usually* knock before entering. It can be any room in the house or out of it! From your bedroom to the bath to the porch, there are many options for all people at all different levels. There are some main components that I like to have in my mental safe space:
Somewhere free from distractions, including but not limiting kids, toys, televisions, and communal clutter.
Pleasing aesthetics because everyone has their quirks and my safe space may as well reflect them!
It must be a place where I can mental rejuvenate and that has the capacity to aid in it.
For me, when my mental health is bad I want nothing more than to curl up in the dark and rest. This makes my bedroom ideal because I can close the blinds, shut the door, and erase distractions like the family room television and my family's day-to-day life. I find that quiet, meditative practices like yoga and journalling also help me. To further my mental oasis, I received a weighted blanket for Christmas and my bed has many, many pillows and blankets to curl up in.
However, not everyone will find mental rejuvenation from this setup. Some people, like my sister for instance, crave social interaction, others crave the sun, and still others need the background noise of those around them to sink into a meditative trance. Finding out what works best for you is the first step to creating a mental safe space. In this space, judgement and negativity are slowly released to allow calmness and happiness to enter.
By finding your mental safe space you create a place for your mind to recover, much like you would let your physical body recover after a particularly taxing activity. I find that mental health can often take over many aspects of my life if I don't keep up with it. Keeping your mind healthy is just as important as keeping your physical body healthy. Here are a few activities I like doing to keep my mind active!
Journal: It may seem very basic of me to say it, but journalling can help a lot for your mental well being. It allows you to put words to your emotions and work through thoughts that may be troubling you. A journal doesn't talk back, make judgments, or offer advice, it's an impartial party, a sounding board. Letting your thoughts flow without fear of rejection can really help get things aligned on the inside and let you work out problems and questions you may be puzzling over.
Yoga: Sometimes physical and mental health overlap. Doing yoga feels great for me because I get to stretch my muscles and wake up my body. It's a time for me to focus on how my body feels without the distractions of social media or the rest of the day. Giving yourself a task, such as yoga, that gently uses your body, allows you to focus on the movements and create a relaxing mindset you can take with you the rest of the day. It's also an excellent way to relieve tension and anxiety in the physical body after a long day of at-home working.
Apps: Sometimes technology is better. When I've got a really bad mental health day I don't like the blue light from tech screens, however, on a normal day, using an app to help keep my brain active keeps me engaged and helps those little synapses in my brain to keep firing. I like Minesweeper or Nonogram (look it up, it's so much fun! There are a ton of games like it and it's a good way to pass the time).
Though COVID19 keeps chugging along, so can we! Keeping ourselves healthy and happy is a great place to start. I truly believe that keeping our mental health in check and increase our happiness and productivity in the rest of our lives, allowing ourselves to get out and do more. As you create your mental safe space, remember to be selfish! Your safe space should be made with you in mind, so if you need to remove that toy or that seriously ugly lamp go for it! It can always find another home in your house or someone elses! Happy minds lead to happy lives (probably).